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UT Martin receives $200,000 grant through 'Race to the Top' program
Contact 1: Casey Curlin Scarbrough, Office of University Relations

MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin received the largest amount awarded to any institution this year from the federal Race to the Top grant for the STEM Professional Development Program.

The overall purpose of the STEM Program is to provide high quality, research-based professional development to K-12 teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The grant proposal for the UT Martin program, titled “STEM-Integration for Middle School Teacher Academy” (SIMS-TA), focuses on integrating engineering and technology into middle school classrooms.

The Dickson County, Henderson County and Jackson/Madison County school systems will each send 10 science and mathematics teachers from grades 5-9 to participate in the one-week summer academy at UT Martin. Participants will learn to integrate various academic disciplines in order to provide students with a more comprehensive picture of the scientific world.

“We hope to create effective teachers in STEM integration. When teachers learn to integrate then students can learn more effectively,” said Dr. Becky Cox, co-writer of the project proposal and associate professor of educational studies at UT Martin.

“The biggest thing with our program is that we are incorporating engineering,” said Cox. “We’ll start with a science topic and, through modeling, allow teachers to create lessons to take back to their classrooms.”

The UT Martin program will focus on hands-on, inquiry-based learning and use models to translate written problems into real-life concepts. For example, a model of a human arm could be used to demonstrate how simple machines work together to create complex mechanisms.

The STEM program seeks to make middle school teachers more comfortable teaching engineering and technological concepts in science and mathematics courses. The goal is to make it easier for teachers to provide students with the “bigger picture” while still working toward set classroom standards.

“Participating teachers will receive and be taught to use an iPad for use in their classrooms,” said Cox. “We will also fund attendance at professional science and math conferences during the 2012-2013 school year for our participants.”

The academy will be offered during the summer in both 2012 and 2013.

The UT Martin proposal was developed through the joint efforts of Cox; Ramona Nelson, STEM project coordinator and lecturer of educational studies; and Dr. Ray Witmer, associate professor of engineering. Other members of the leadership team include Dr. Louis Kolitsch, professor of mathematics and statistics; Dr. Lionel Crews, associate professor of chemistry and physics; and Dr. Charles Baldwin, professor of chemistry at Union University.

Seventeen other programs at various Tennessee institutions were also chosen for Race to the Top grants.

For more information, contact Cox by email at or Witmer by phone at 731-881-7388.

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